Federal Employment Under George W. Bush

AB read Catcus questions the following claim from NRO’s Greg Kaza:

Since Bush took office in January 2001, government jobs have dropped by 51,000 – nearly 2 percent. That may not look like much, but it is a continuation of a trend that represents a small victory for fiscal conservatives and economic libertarians – those who support limited government and the philosophical principle of a smaller federal labor force.

Catcus points us to OMB table 17.1. Employment by the Civilian Agencies has increased by more than Department of Defense employment has declined. So with a Global War on Terror and that idiotic decision to commit troops to invading Iraq, isn’t odd that someone who wants a permanent tax cut is increasing employment by Civilian Agencies but cutting DoD employment?

So what is Kaza using to back up his claim?

The data show that total federal employment peaked under President George H.W. Bush at 3.4 million in May 1990. That number, as measured by the BLS, fell to 3 million by the time Bush the Elder left office … As of the latest jobs report, total federal employment under George W. Bush was 2.7 million in May 2006. That represents a loss of more than one in every five federal employees since 1990.

While Kaza does admit that Federal employment fell under Bill Clinton, he fails to note that Federal employment under George W. Bush went up before it went down. And the small net decline in employment since George W. Bush took office is more than 100% explained by the reduction in employment by the Post Office. Federal employment not including the Post Office has increased under George W. Bush.

Kaza wants us to believe that we are more free simply because the Post Office has less employees now than it did when George W. Bush took office. I don’t know if the reduction in employment at the U.S. Postal Service is from FEDEX, UPS, and DHL gaining market share or whether it’s the postal service becoming more efficient. As far as freedom, I’d be more concerned what the NSA is doing in terms of wire tapping Aunt Bee and even if they could do so efficiently, a reduction in NSA employment would not translate into an increase in freedom. As far as DoD employment, Rumsfeld thought he could efficiently fight two wars without increasing the number of troops. How is that working out?